2F - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2003
aMdate with te Gate:td ieeitE Chiiies
By David Enders
Daily Food anid Drink Critic
This campus suffers from an unexplained proliferation of
bad Chinese food. I've gotten food poisoning at Dinersty.
(General Tso declared war on my stomach.) I've had better
Chinese food in the Upper Peninsula.
But there is an exception: China Gate, a tasty oasis in
a dangerous desert of too-greasy egg rolls and fried rice
that just shouldn't be "that" color. The food there is so
good one of my roommates is convinced it has the power
to cure hangovers.
But don't listen to me. Listen to an expert. It hap-
pened one was in town last weekend: Former Daily
Food and Drink critic Michael Grass. (I owe a consid-
erable debt to Mike for creating the Food and Drink
Critic position at the Daily.)
To say thanks, I took my esteemed colleague for lunch at
China Gate, where he regaled me with the knowledge he
gained during his three-year employment at a Chinese
restaurant in Grand Rapids. Excerpts follow:
Mike Grass: I don't think I've ever had a bad meal at China
Gate. I'm not so sure why that is. Typically, having pictures of
a restaurant's food on the wall is a culinary faux pas. (One
could, in theory, order by pointing.) So is advertising a chef's
cooking awards and prizes so prominently But Chef Jan man-
ages to overcome all of this with the quality of his dishes.
The Michigan Daily: I think our waitress is on speed.
(It should be noted China Gate has the best turnaround
time of any restaurant in the area. Even when the place is
full, I've never waited more than ten minutes for a table.)
MG: Americans typically think of Chinese food as one
simple cuisine. People believe that if you add meat, vegeta-
bles, sauce and rice together, with a side of an egg roll or
won ton soup, you're eating the same thing as the people
back in Fujian Province. Clearly, that mentality is myopic
and wrong, but it isn't necessarily the fault of the unknow-
ing people on this side of the Pacific. Chinese cuisine is
more like a family of regional tastes and food traditions.
And most Chinese restaurants offer a wide variety of sam-
plings from these different regions, creating an American-
ized fusion Chinese cuisine and adding fancy imperial
names like Princess Chicken to add authenticity. Chop suey
is an American invention and if you go to Beijing, you'll
have trouble finding egg rolls.
TMD: Have you ever been to China?
MG: (Eyeing me suspiciously and then reaching for the
last of the crab cheese appetizers) The first thing to know
about Chinese food is geography. The most prominent
names in Chinese food are Mandarin (Beijing and Peking),
Szechuan (Sichuan) and Hunan and Guondong (Cantonese).
Mandarin cuisine is from the northern part of China and
isn't my particular favorite. Like in the U.S. and India, the
food gets more flavorful the further south you go.
Szechuan is hot and sweet and Hunan is hot and spicy.
Cantonese food offers the best of everything because Guon-
dong (Canton) and its proximity to Hong Kong was an early
outlet of Chinese culture and food to the West.
Early waves of immigrants from China came from this
region, so Cantonese cuisine is a dominant force showing up
in many American Chinese restaurants.
(At this point, the Michael Jackson song from "Free
Willy" is played on the restaurant's muzak station. People
actually begin humming or even singing along. There is a
slight pause before Mike continues:)
The new wave of immigrants from China is coming
from the coastal province of Fujian, across the straits from
Taiwan. So specialized seafood dishes have been slowly
integrated into many Chinese restaurants in the U.S.
These new coastal dishes are most of the time a lot lighter
than some dishes that hail from the interior, so if you have a
chance to have a chef's special, you may be pleasantly sur-
prised. My old boss came from a Taiwanese culinary back-
ground, which is heavily influenced by seafood. He
specialized in Sa-Tsa, a coastal barbeque sauce made from
anchovies and garlic, which you don't see too often in the
Midwest. He would make it for me off the menu. Straying
off the typical can yield the best food selections.
TMD: Yeah, straying off the typical can yield a lot of
things. When's our food gonna get here?
MG: A typical Chinese dish should only take two to three
minutes to make, so if you wait for a long time for a simple
dish, something is awry in the kitchen.
The reason for the quick turnaround time in Chinese restau-
rants is tied to China's traditional lack of energy resources.
Fuel for cooking has always been in limited supply, so creating
a large fire that consumed a lot of fuel wasn't always an
option. So the stir-fly process, which used an intense flame for
a short period of time became the cooking technique of
choice. Chopping everything into small bite sized portions in
the cooking process required less fuel to cook, which is anoth-
er reason why you rarely see a slow-cooked honey-baked ham
on the menu of most Chinese menus.
TMD: So if you were writing this food review and not
me, what would you write?
MG: China Gate does a great job overall. The crab
cheese is different, but is fantastic, and the hot and sour
soup is perhaps the best I've had in Ann Arbor. They're
located at 1201 S. University Ave. Their hours are 10
At China Gate, your water glass will never be empty. It is;
noted to have one of the fastest turnaround times in A2.
a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Kung Pao anything
is superb, and the prices are reasonable (mostly under
$10, with lunch specials under $'7) and served with rice
They also do take-out.
Off the beaten path: Gettig officampusforfood and music
By Uzzle Horovitz
and David Yowell
Daily Arts Writers
Ask most any University student about a
good place to get food and hear music in Ann
Arbor and you will most likely be told to check
out The Ark, The Bird of Paradise or The Blind
Pig. Unbeknownest to most students, Ann
Arbor is home to a wide range of restaurants
and bars that feature music on a regular basis.
The music scenes at these venues vary from
jazz to folk and everything in between. We've
done the hard work for you and reviewed some
of the lesser known off-campus bars and restau-
rants that feature music.
The atmosphere of the Del Rio is best
described as eclectic. At first glance the Del
Rio appears to be decorated in the fashion of a
local old-style tavern - with dim lighting, raw
brick walls and a bar that stretches the length of
the small restaurant. However, upon further
examination, one sees the
little idiosyncrasies that ~ ~
make this place unique;
church pews that serve as v
benches, artwork that
seems to have no rele-
van~e. at all and a menu
that ranges from typical
offerings such as nachos
and pizza (according to a
waitress, the "best-kept
secret in town") to home-
made tempeh chili. Even_
the ethnic name, the "Del
Rio" seems to have been
chosen at random, as the
most Mexican aspect of
the whole place is per-
haps the nachos.
The Del Rio offers
evening music Sunday
from 6 to 9 p.m. and
Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m.
There is never any cover
for the featured Sunday
night jazz or the Tuesday
night "acoustic" sets. The Old Town Tavern I
Located at 122 West
Washington St., the Del Rio offers a wide
range of music. While jazz is usually featured
on Sundays (with a fairly regular set of rotat-
ing bands), the Tuesday-night acoustic fea-
tures have ranged in the past from folk to
classical to flamenco.
The wide range in the menu and music offer-
ings are, if anything, representative of the wide
range of customers that come to enjoy them-
selves and the music at the Del Rio. The cus-
tomers are usually an eclectic mix of townies
and students. No matter who you are, and what
kind of music you may enjoy, there is "some-
thing for everyone at least one time a month," a
waitress at the restaurant said.
The Del Rio is a great option for those seek-
ing to hear live music in a comfortable atmos-
phere, and who appreciate good drinks and
very affordable food. Be forewarned, however,
the music is loud and is not conducive to con-
versation. This is a great place to come with
friends if you are just looking to kick-back on a
Sunday or Tuesday and hear some tunes. Music
listings are available in The Current, a free
local event listing available in campus buildings
and coffee shops.
Old Town Tavern
For the past 15 years, local folk musicians
have made their way to the family-owned Old
Town Tavern every Sunday night to play music
of the folk and bluegrass genre. Starting at 8
p.m. and often lasting well-beyond the desig-
nated 10 p.m. ending time, the Old Town Tav-
ern plays host to folk and acoustic music
offerings. Performers have been known to
include Charlie Weaver, Jay Steiltra, Jim Roll,
3 and Rollie
4 x Tussing III -
1 . all well-known
in Ann Arbor's
the Old Town
has a rotating
list of local
S Often times
Safter playing at
the Ark, musi-
cians are sent
to the Old
Town on a
S un d ay
~"T~ play a couple
of sets, said
Liz Davis, the
RYAN WEINER/Daily "manager for
located at 122 W. Liberty St. 1,000 years."
since 1867, thus making it one of the oldest
bars still running in the area, the Old Town
offers a neighborhood feel where "most of the
staff, just like the regulars, haven't changed
much," Davis said. The Sunday night crowd of
regulars is a mix of musicians and locals, most
of whom know each other from years past. The
student faction is small, and you are more like-
ly to find grad students here than undergrads.
Although the Old Town certainly plays host to a
number of regulars, newcomers alike are wel-
comed, "I fight to maintain an atmosphere
where lots of people feel welcome'" says Davis.
Favorite dishes in the Tavern include the que- Harris-Behling and Jake Reichbart. Harris-
sadillas, burgers and ribs. The beers on tap are Behling, a School of Music grad student, usual-
Michigan beers, with the favorite being Bells, ly covers Tuesday evenings while Jake
brewed out of Kalamazoo. However, Davis is Reichbart, a professional musician, covers
quick to point out that "good old-fashioned Wednesdays. The music was originally started
American Beers are holding their-own against to attract more customers on the slowest nights
Bell's." The Old Town has been compared in of the week. While manager Stephen Kasle
the past to the closest place to Cheers you can claims that sometimes there are so many people
find in Ann Arbor. This is a place where after you can hardly hear the music, last Tuesday
playing a set, band members will often walk there were only about four tables occupied in
around and chat with the ~
If you enjoy folk music<
and the feel of a well-estab-
lished neighborhood bar, ~
the Old Town is the place to Al
go. The Old Town is locat-- 4.
ed at 122 West Liberty St.
Prices are affordable and
music listings are availableNo
in The Current.Y
The evening music avail- >
able at 'the Kerrytown
Bistro is not meant to be F
the main feature for diners.
This is strikingly apparentA
when you walk into the
Bistro to find the musical
talent set up directly in
front of you, looking rather 6
crammed in next to the
host's booth. Aesthetic
appeal (or lack thereofo
the music set-up aside, the
mix of quiet jazz and
romantic guitar playing is
quite effective as what it is Patrons relax at Conor O'Neils, located at 318 S. Main St.
For sports fans who want to check out the
Irish jam on Sundays but don't want to miss
watching the Lions get pummeled, O'Neill's
has a solution - grab a pint of stout and take
in the music while watching the game on their
Bar patrons who bring an appetite to
O'Neill's are also welcome to take a look at the
menu, which is filled with traditional Irish
selections from shepherd's pie to corned beef
is a great place t~o
get together with
friends for a care-
free, good time.
While it features
food and, of
course, beer that is
expected from an.
S Irish pub, O'Neills
live music really
sets it apart, and
... One of the best
places to go in Ann
Arbor to really et
the royal treatmenlt
~is The Earle. This
and bar is dark and
cozy -a great
place to go to
JESSICA YURASEK/Daily impress a date.
The Earle's cui-
sine is described on
their menu as "country cooking from the
provinces of France and Italy." You definitely
do get what you pay for - entrees are priced at
about $20 each and are worth every penny.
In addition to an excellent meal, The Earle
also provides a magnificent atmosphere. The
walls of the restaurant are lined with wine
bottles and the lighting is dark and intimate.
The whole place emanates a feeling of
wealth and elegance.
Contributing to the mood of the restaurant is
the live music which is featured nightly at The
Earle. Pianists or guitar players are featured
Monday through Wednesday and the Rick
Burgess Trio plays Friday and Saturday nights.
The jazz acts that play at The Earle serve as a
perfect backdrop for a delicious meal or a night
out at the bar, and there is no cover charge t~o
check it out.
The Earle is a wonderful place to go for a
celebration or a big date. It is an intimate
setting with excellent food and entertain-
ment. While it is certainly not a casual bar,
The Earle is an unbeatable place for special
meant to be - background
music for customers who seek a quiet, romantic
evening. A romantic evening at the Kerrytown
Bistro is almost unavoidable; with luscious
meals that appeal to taste, smell and sight, as
well as a warm, picturesque atmosphere with
dim lighting, intimate candle-lit tables, open-
brick walls and beautiful hardwood floors. The
Kerrytown Bistro boasts both aesthetic and
saporific appeal. On Tuesday and Wednesday
evenings, it delightfully appeals to the auditory
senses as well.
Though the manager, Stephen Kasle, claims
that the Kerrytown Bistro attracts an "eclectic"
crowd, this is a place where you can imagine
finding your Romantic Literature professor out
to an anniversary dinner with his or her spouse
(not that we did or anything). The crowd here is
older and well, richer. Unless your budget
allows for entrees on up from $17 (for the
stuffed squash) to $32 (for the rack of lamb,
which, incidentally is supposed to be fantastic)
you had better plan on sticking to the salads
and appetizers. Plates may, however, be split at
no extra charge.
The music featured is that of guitarists John
the entire restaurant (out of an estimated twenty
or so). Whether a full-house appeals to you or
not, if you are looking for mood-setting music
to accompany a quiet, romantic evening the
Kerrytown Bistro on a Tuesday or Wednesday
evening is the place.
Those interested in experiencing a truly
authentic Irish pub need go no further than
Main Street to get a real taste of the emerald
isle. Conor O'Neill's brings the distinct feel of
an Irish pub right to downtown Ann Arbor,
from its traditional decor to its friendly, relaxed
One of the standout characteristics of
O'Neill's is its live music. On Sunday evenings
the bar holds its Traditional Irish Session - a
chance for local musicians to bring along a fid-
dle or an accordion and participate in an open
and informal acoustic Celtic jam. This event
happens every Sunday at about 6 p.m. In addi-
tion to the weekly jam session, Conor O'Neill's
also features live Irish music by artists such as
Mossy Moran and Bill Long at 9:30 pm on
Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Re .ndez-vous Cafe
offers Mideast fare
YouN may bego COLLEGE, but is our hair still in
By Ellen McGarrity
Daily Arts Writer
Seeking a cafe with some exotic
flair? Then Rendez-vous Cafe on
South University is your place.
Serving American food with a
Middle Eastern twist, as well as a
selection of coffee drinks, this two-
story restaurant has been a favorite
among Michigan students for ten
Manager Abou Lakredine feels
that the best part about the caf6 is
its convenience for students. Open a
whopping twenty-two hours a day,
from 6 a.m. to 4 a.m., it provides an
alternative place to study for late
"The libraries close and (the stu-
And if you're in the mood for
something more filling, this cafe also
serves crepes, sandwiches and salads.
"I like the nutella crepes best
because they give you such a liberal
amount of nutella that you can even
pick it off the plate after you're done
with the crepe - that's the fun part!"
LSA junior Jia-En Teo said.
Teo also said that Rendez-vous is
good not only for eating but also for
"I love studying there as well as
people watching - such an eclectic
bunch of people hang out there,"
The cafe has lunch specials every
day also, like Monday's chicken
shawarma, a Middle Eastern dish
with marinated chicken covered in a
This smoothie from Rendez-vous Cafe
will satisfy your sweet tooth.